Ceausescu had grandiose ideas, and one of them was to reconstruct Bucharest with a socialist vision in mind. It is no secret that Ceausescu was a good friend and admirer of Kim il Sung, and his most megalomanic ideas were probably born in Pyongyang. The latter a city with wide boulevards (without traffic), statues and monuments everywhere; it was soon clear Bucharest needed some major works to allow for similar constructions. Those major works were indeed carried out, entire neighbourhoods were razed to accomodate the building of the Centru Civic. This was to be the district for the state administration, and the boulevard had to impress everyone: it was deliberately designed to be just larger than the Champs Elysees in Paris.
The boulevard might be larger, but in atmosphere it can not at all compete with the Champs Elysees. The buildings lining the Bulevardul Unirii, or Union Boulevard, are interesting examples of playful communist architecure, but they do not have the grace of Parisian buildings. Instead, they are interesting buildings; the architects have done an effort to make every building unique. I walked down Union Avenue eastwards from the Palace of Parliament. The area gave me a weird sensation, and I could feel this was not really a lively neighbourhood. On the contrary. The high apartment blocks directly on the street are not more than a facade of what is behind: older houses, squares and churches. The latter were actually removed from their original spot so they could not disturb the view of the avenue.
Unirii Avenue itself was designed to offer the best possible view towards the Palace of Parliament. The latter is slightly higher, so it provides a perfect end to the wide and long Unirii Avenue: 4km long and 120m wide. On either side of the street, you can find the Centru Civic. The original name of the Bulevardul Unirii is the Boulevard of the Victory of Socialism, but it was renamed after the Romanian Revolution of 1989. Piata Unirii, a vast square more or less in the middle of Unirrii boulevard, is a major hub for public transport, as well as a shopping centre. The enormous billboards on apartment blocks around the square are another testimony to the final victory of capitalism in the Romanian capital.
Personal travel impressions both in words and images from Union Avenue (Romania). Clicking on the pictures enlarges them and enables you to send the picture as a free e-card or download it for personal use, for instance, on your weblog. Or click on the map above to visit more places close to Union Avenue.
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